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What is the Origin of Colocasia Plant

Updated: April 9, 2022

Colocasia plant, also known as taro or elephant ear, is a tropical plant that is widely cultivated for its starchy corms, which are used as a staple food in many countries. It is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia, but its exact origin and early history are still a subject of debate among botanists and historians.

The Early History of Colocasia Plant

The earliest evidence of the cultivation of taro dates back to around 5000 BCE in the Philippines, where it was grown by the Austronesian people. From there, it spread to other parts of Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea.

In ancient times, taro was considered a sacred plant in many cultures and was often associated with fertility and prosperity. It was also used for medicinal purposes and as a source of dye.

The Spread of Colocasia Plant

As trade and migration spread throughout Southeast Asia, taro was introduced to other regions, including India, Africa, and Polynesia. In India, taro is known as arbi or colocasia and is widely used in regional cuisines. In Africa, it is known as cocoyam and is also an important staple food.

In Polynesia, taro played a significant role in the early history of the region. It was brought to Hawaii by the Polynesian settlers who arrived there around 500 CE. Taro cultivation became a central part of Hawaiian culture and was used to make poi, a traditional Hawaiian dish made from mashed taro corms.

Today, taro is grown in many parts of the world, including Southeast Asia, India, Africa, Polynesia, and Latin America. It is an important crop for many small farmers and provides a source of income and food security for millions of people.

Cultivation and Uses of Colocasia Plant

Colocasia plant is a perennial plant that grows well in warm and humid climates. It requires plenty of water and thrives in swampy or marshy areas. The plant has large, heart-shaped leaves that can grow up to 1 meter long and 50 cm wide.

The corms of the taro plant are the most important part, and they are harvested after about 6-12 months of growth. Once harvested, the corms can be boiled, roasted, or fried and used in a variety of dishes. In many cultures, taro is a staple food and is used to make bread, cakes, dumplings, and other foods.

Besides its culinary uses, taro is also used for medicinal purposes. The corms contain high levels of fiber, vitamins, and minerals and are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. In traditional medicine, taro has been used to treat a range of ailments, including diarrhea, constipation, and skin diseases.


Is taro safe to eat?

Yes, taro is safe to eat when cooked properly. Raw taro contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause irritation and discomfort when consumed. Cooking the corms breaks down these crystals and makes them safe to eat.

Can I grow taro in my garden?

Yes, taro can be grown in gardens as long as the climate is warm and humid enough. The plants require plenty of water and do well in soil that is rich in organic matter.

What are some common dishes made with taro?

Some common dishes made with taro include poi (Hawaiian mashed taro), taro chips (fried or baked slices), arbi ki sabzi (Indian curry), cocoyam porridge (West African dish), and taro cake (Chinese dim sum).